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Sep 04, 2019

GRI opens in Singapore to boost ESG in regional capital markets

International body expands work in ASEAN region

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) – the international body that helps companies organize and communicate their ESG data to wider stakeholders – has opened a regional hub in Singapore as part of its Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) work.

This reflects a greater move to ESG reporting in the region, as Singapore Exchange (SGX) already requires listed companies to provide sustainability reporting. GRI says that more than 90 percent of the world’s largest companies report ESG information, of which 75 percent use the GRI Standards.  

The GRI ASEAN hub was launched on Tuesday with the backing of 12 companies: real estate groups CapitaLand and City Developments, DBS Bank, financial services companies EY, KPMG and PwC, infrastructure company Keppel Corporation, utilities company Sembcorp Industries, SGX, telecommunications company StarHub, thought leadership body Stewardship Asia and Tata Consultancy Services.

The companies have all contributed to the funding to run the hub for three years and will all participate in the GRI ASEAN advisory committee, which will inform the hub’s regional action and priorities.

Tim Mohin, chief executive of GRI, says in a statement: ‘GRI’s experience around the world shows disclosure helps businesses improve performance, build relationships with global buyers and increase their reputation as responsible global citizens.’

He adds that this is an ‘historic opportunity’ to ‘embed’ the values of corporate responsibility and ‘nudge’ the allocation of capital to sustainable ways of working. ‘The only way to do this is with high-quality ESG disclosure based on a global common language: the GRI Standards,’ he says.

GRI already has similar offices in New York for North America, New Delhi for South Asia, Johannesburg for Africa, Hong Kong for the Greater China Region, Bogota for Hispanic America and São Paulo for Brazil. GRI’s secretariat is based in the Netherlands, which helps to cover Europe.

GRI’s ASEAN hub is headed by Michele Lemmens, who is head of business sustainability for Asia-Pacific at Tata Consultancy Services.

The move will boost regional markets in terms of a beneficial focus on ESG and has been welcomed by Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo), the regulatory arm of the SGX.

‘We welcome the establishment of GRI’s regional hub in Singapore where it can generate valuable know-how for ESG reporting and sustainable finance, and in turn contribute to the development of Singapore as a global financial center,’ says SGX RegCo CEO Tan Boon Gin.